Collagen supplements can provide the building blocks of collagen manufacture, but the key to increasing collagen levels is to increase the activity of collagen-producing cells. Collagen supplements have shown mixed results in promoting joint health. In one study, a collagen supplement (2 grams per day) was shown to produce considerable relief of symptoms of osteoarthritis of the knee and hip.
However, this collagen supplement also contains low molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HA). Studies with HA supplementation in osteoarthritis have also shown beneficial effects, so it's difficult to know if the results are due to the collagen or HA.
Natural eggshell membrane (NEM) is another source of collagen and HA. Studies show that NEM helps relieve the pain, stiffness, and impaired mobility of osteoarthritis and other joint health problems. In one clinical study, NEM reduced pain by an average of 72 percent and improved flexibility by 44 percent after 30 days of use-without side effects.
Rather than simply supply collagen, it is thought that NEM boosts the production of critical joint molecules such as type II collagen and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), including chondroitin sulfate. GAGs are important components of cartilage, providing resistance to compression and contributing to the tensile strength of cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.
One of the most interesting and well-documented approaches to increasing the manufacture of collagen is the use of a highly bioavailable from of silica-choline stabilized orthosilicic acid or ChOSA (sold as BioSil). Initially, research focused on the ability of ChOSA to increase the levels of hydroxyproline, the key amino acid required for the production of collagen and elastin. Clinical studies with ChOSA showed impressive results in women age 40-65 with signs of sun damage and premature aging of the skin. Those receiving 10 mg of ChOSA daily experienced 30 percent improvements in shallow, fine lines and 55 percent increased skin elasticity.
ChOSA can also promote bone health through increasing the manufacture of collagen. In a double-blind study of postmenopausal women with low bone density, ChOSA was able to increase the collagen content of the bone by 22 percent and increase bone density by 2 percent within the first year of use. The recommended dosage is 6-10 mg per day.